- Commandment 2:Thou Shalt Oppose the Spread of Nuclear Weapons.
- Commandment 3:Thou Shalt Not Question the Need for a Nuclear Deterrent.
Here are my thoughts on this:
Walt reflects the US status quo mentality when it comes to the use and usefulness of unconventional military power in global affairs. That mentality goes something like this:
Nuclear disarmament as a goal is ultimately too idealistic. We'll keep reducing and reducing our numbers but it will get to a point where they will have 1 and we will need to have at least 2, because at the end of the day, whoever gets rid of their last warhead not only opens that country up to vulnerabilities and increased chances of attack, but also demonstrates to the global community that country's weakness and myopic policymaking tendencies.
To counter the same tired, trite conventional arguments against disarmament, here's a rebuttal by James Acton and George Perkovich. Interesting read that, I think, puts things into perspective.
So what does this mean going forward, and in particular light of (a) Obama's Prague speech and (b) the recent Obama/Medvedev summit and renewed START? It means that non-proliferation and disarmament, first and foremost, are NOT synonymous. Non-proliferation is certainly a good start, and the alphabet soup that is the current global non-proliferation regime is a step in the right direction. But such doctrines are neither sustainable nor in the best interests of long-term global security. "Non-proliferation" needs to be replaced by "disarmament." Only a complete shift in thinking will bring about the change we all truly need to ensure a stable and peaceful future for future generations.
Remember, the presence of nuclear weapons hasn't deterred anything -- wars have still happened. Just because no one's pressed the big red panic button yet doesn't mean it can't happen tomorrow. At the end of the day, deterrence is a logically flawed policy that creates a zero-sum game situation. As one of the remnants of the Cold War that continue to influence our policymaking thought processes, deterrence, along with its close relative, Mutually Assured Destruction, need to go.
What we need to understand is that the real threat of even one nuclear explosion will not be completely eliminated until we stop deluding ourselves. As long as the existence and possession of nuclear weapons are justified under the concept of "deterrence," we cannot consider ourselves completely opposed to the spread of nuclear weapons. Non-proliferation is not an end in itself, but rather is a step towards the real end goal of disarmament.